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Vols’ Influx of talent had best be seen immediately per Tennessee coach Josh Heupel

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If Tennessee coach Josh Heupel forgets a name or two during spring practice, cut him some slack. There are enough new faces around to confound even the best memory.

The Vols will have eight transfers and 14 mid-year enrollees vying for Heupel’s attention during spring practice, which opened on Monday. Spring camp is certainly a chance to hit the ground running considering preseason camp is over four months away. However, this isn’t the time to be complacent just because the Vols don’t have a game on Saturday.

When asked if there was a sense of urgency among the incomers, Heupel said, “I want to see urgency from everybody that’s putting a helmet on and going out to practice. I don’t care how long you’ve been playing. The best in the game are always working on their craft.”

The Vols were joined by two other new players on Monday. Heupel said defensive back Kaleb Beasley and linebacker Edwin Spillman from Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, Tenn., were added to the fold, but didn’t specify why the two signees weren’t more involved earlier this year after enrolling in time for the spring semester.

“They weren’t with us at the beginning of this semester,” Heupel said flatly.

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The most important new name on the Vols’ roster is probably Lance Heard, the five-star transfer from LSU who is expected to start at left tackle for Tennessee this season. The 5-foot-6, 335-pound offensive lineman played in every game for LSU last season and started one as a true freshman so there’s every reason to believe he can compete for the Vols immediately.

“Really young player that played snaps down there and played well when he had the opportunity,” Heupel said. “He’s a young player who’s going to have to continue to grow. He’s got to develop and grow into being a pro and how he handles himself every single day. 

“He’s been awesome inside of our building. You know, all the relationships, how he’s competed every day.”

Heard isn’t the only one to draw rave reviews.

“It’s been a great group that’s come into the building and tried to blend in and mesh in with our team culture extremely quickly,” Heupel said. “They’ve handled themselves with a lot of maturity. He’s (Heard) handled himself with maturity on the field as a young player. He’s seven months, eight months into his college football career and he’s just beginning to enjoy it.

Heard has plenty of reason to listen to his coaches this spring. There’s plenty of things to learn.

“Fundamentals, technique, understanding what we’re doing offensively, the communication that’s got to happen up front,” Heupel said. “When we play with tempo, being able to function and operate within that is in the beginning stages. Uber talented and great in the building. Man, I expect him to to grow a bunch here over the next 14 practices.”

So do Tennessee fans.

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